Quad Band FM Rig? Why Not.

ToddDubya

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I came into a quad band FM rig today, good for 70cm, 2m, 6m, 10m. I figured why the hell not. The price was right, it was for a "good cause" and it has some neat features.

1. Quad band, I think I mentioned that
2. Cross band repeat
3. Full duplex (think satellites)

This is an older, discontinued Yaesu model so you can guess how fun it is to figure out the front panel controls and 100 buttons on the mic. I'm going to have to actually sit down and read the manual and play with it to get proficient.

Before you shit on FM, I recently became aware of people using FM on 10m, and the other day I heard a guy in NM calling. I couldn't get to the radio, but he sounded just like you'd expect. Swapping my main HF rig back and forth is a hassle, so this could simplify things.

But the question now is what do I do for antenna(s)? I'd prefer to use one because my HF antenna is a DX Commander and I'm spoiled that I have one resonant antenna for every band 40-10. But quad band VHF/UHF antennas a seriously compromised. There are decent options for tri-band 6/2/70c that might get me most of the way there.

Anybody have any experience with these gems?
 
I messed around with it for a while last night, going through the entire manual. It's got some quirks, but it's not as bad as I thought. It took me a few minutes to get my head around the cross band repeat. I couldn't figure out which was the in freq and which was the out. A-doy, which ever side it receives, it puts out on the other side. It's not like a regular repeater.

I saw some helpful videos too where people described how to use it with a regular repeater. You can run it with one on low power, but because of the high duty cycle, it can overheat with more than that. So basically use your HT to receive the repeater output and only use cross band to get your signal to the repeater.

I'm not currently interested in satellite work but I could see it being a neat thing to mess around with. The same place I got this radio there might be antennas for it. There are a couple discone or ground plane antennas on a beam that might have been used for that. There are some antenna switches in the shack that are labeled so maybe there'll be enough info there to help.

And I spotted an old CB whip that I bet was converted to 10m or was planning to be converted to 10m, so I'll grab that.
 
Today I picked up a CB whip antenna from the same guy I got the quad band rig. My guess is he already trimmed it to 10m but I'll check that out. It looks exactly like you'd picture a springy CB bumper mount antenna to look. I was planning to use it on the house, but I'm not sure about a ground plane. I'm not interested in running 1/4 wave radials up in the air.

The connections on this thing are weird too. There is just a nut to attach the center connector (the dark nut on the corner of the mount) and I'm not even sure there's a place for the shield to go. The whole mount seems to be insulated from what it's mounted to (see red insulators). Maybe it's worth just keeping the whip and finding a whole new mount.

1697832516268.png
 
I used my old mirror mount clamped to a length of rebar jammed in the ground to put up the whip I acquired. As I suspected, the whip had been cut for 10m FM, and was 96" long. I cut two lengths of wire about 100" each and set it up with the feed point and radials about 3' above ground. It actually could have been longer, but SWR is 1.3 at 29.6 MHz, so I'm alright with that..

I tried the 10m repeaters I have programmed in and the one in Bristol I could hear some foreign language being spoken. I don't know if they were on that repeater or if I was getting skip from elsewhere. But that was is. I couldn't hit any other repeaters, and nobody came back to my call on 29.6. I'll keep trying and see if I can get anything going.

The 70/2/6 antenna I want is on sale right now. I'm not convinced I'll actually use it but I should probably get it and see. Kind of hemorrhaging money right now, but now's the time to do it before winter.
 
Screw it, I ordered the Comet GP-15. I should have it later this week. That reminds me, I need to go get my ladder from another state.
 
I just worked The Netherlands on 10m FM. That was pretty sweet. A little scratchy at first but then band cleared up and it was pretty solid. He was running a little power and had a beam, but he said I sounded great. Not bad for an old CB antenna, a piece of rebar, a couple wires and plastic fence posts.
 
Anybody else use 10m FM? I'm trying to get a feel for the etiquette.

The DX stations seem to get on 29.600, the calling frequency, make a call and say "Moving to ___" where they continue calling. It seems like they just use 29.600 to generate buzz. But then a guy in TX was just having QSOs on 29.600, and admittedly I did the same a few weeks back. I don't think the band was open, but if it was we were pissing people off.

From what I can tell so far, people seem to move DOWN the band a little. Maybe the next guy I talk to I'll see what the rationale is. It could be to avoid interfering with repeater outputs, which are above 29.6.

I'm looking forward to the tri-bander getting here so I can see what's doing on 6m FM. I've used my hex beam for it a little but just locally. It's not really tuned for the FM portion of the band, so I try to keep that to a minimum.

If this works out, maybe next spring I'll get something proper setup.
 
Anybody else use 10m FM? I'm trying to get a feel for the etiquette.

The DX stations seem to get on 29.600, the calling frequency, make a call and say "Moving to ___" where they continue calling. It seems like they just use 29.600 to generate buzz. But then a guy in TX was just having QSOs on 29.600, and admittedly I did the same a few weeks back. I don't think the band was open, but if it was we were pissing people off.

From what I can tell so far, people seem to move DOWN the band a little. Maybe the next guy I talk to I'll see what the rationale is. It could be to avoid interfering with repeater outputs, which are above 29.6.

I'm looking forward to the tri-bander getting here so I can see what's doing on 6m FM. I've used my hex beam for it a little but just locally. It's not really tuned for the FM portion of the band, so I try to keep that to a minimum.

If this works out, maybe next spring I'll get something proper setup.
29.6 and 29.5 are simplex channels. 29.52,54,56,58 are repeater inputs, and 29.62, 64, 66, 68 are repeater outputs. I don't think it's wise to be operating on those repeater inputs or outputs when band conditions are open. At night, when the band is dead, it's probably ok, as long as there's no local 10 meter repeater within 50 or 100 miles. But during the day, I'd avoid operating there. I was under the impression that you did simplex stuff on 50, and 60.

Personally, I would love to see the band expanded to offer more repeater spots and more simplex channels, but there is a satellite band right up against the bottom of the FM portion. Maybe 29.7 - 29.99? In the not so olden days, not many radios did 10 FM, so there wasn't a lot of traffic. Today, every single HF radio does 10 FM, so it has gotten much busier.
 
Anybody else use 10m FM? I'm trying to get a feel for the etiquette.

The DX stations seem to get on 29.600, the calling frequency, make a call and say "Moving to ___" where they continue calling. It seems like they just use 29.600 to generate buzz. But then a guy in TX was just having QSOs on 29.600, and admittedly I did the same a few weeks back. I don't think the band was open, but if it was we were pissing people off.

From what I can tell so far, people seem to move DOWN the band a little. Maybe the next guy I talk to I'll see what the rationale is. It could be to avoid interfering with repeater outputs, which are above 29.6.

I'm looking forward to the tri-bander getting here so I can see what's doing on 6m FM. I've used my hex beam for it a little but just locally. It's not really tuned for the FM portion of the band, so I try to keep that to a minimum.

If this works out, maybe next spring I'll get something proper setup.
Also, you treat it like a 2, 220 or 440 repeater system. Just say "K1ABC listening 29.6." Most people don't call CQ there.
 
10 FM is my favorite operating style. Back during the last sun spot peak, I converted an old Hygain CB. Running 3 watts, I had a three way QSO through the Virgin Islands repeater between myself (Massachusetts), a station in Fort Lauderdale, and a station in Wyoming. Full quieting 20 over signals all around.

Second QSO was with a station in Europe.

BTW, nice radio. Yaesu makes nice stuff.
 
So there are really just two simplex frequencies: 29.500 and 29.600? That's kind of a bummer, but I guess there isn't a ton of room. And when the band is open I can see those few repeater spots getting to be a nightmare. Even with PL tones, once someone opens the repeater, anything on that frequency gets in.

I just heard what I believe were a couple of German stations on 520.
 
I never understood "listening" or "monitoring". I know what it means, but at least around here it garners no response. Last night I heard two guys call the repeater with "monitoring" within a couple minutes of each other. Why didn't they talk to each other?

Not a dig against you, just that "monitoring" and "listening" just seems like what people do when they want to key the mic but don't actually want to talk to anyone. But I'll find some way to call without calling CQ, which is what I had been doing. "Monitoring" is too passive when you're actually looking to talk to people.
 
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So I'm trying to figure out the rules on 10m FM. There is the simplex frequency on 29.6, but I hear people on 29.5. I know repeater inputs are on .520, .540, .560, .580.

Internet experts claim you must use narrow FM below 29.5, but in every forum, thread, etc I've found they never cite the source, just repeat the claim. I see limits on bandwidth for non-voice modes (e.g. SSTV) within the voice portion, but nothing saying I have to use narrow FM. Just the usual precautions about staying away from band limits so your sideband doesn't go outside.

Anybody know what the rules are here? Why is this so confusing?


From FCC...

Emission Types:

A station may transmit the following emission types on the frequencies indicated, as authorized to the control operator, subject to the standards specified in § 97.307(f) of this part.

10 m 29.0–29.7 MHz Phone, image(2).
47 CFR 97.305

Section (2)
No non-phone emission shall exceed the bandwidth of a communications quality phone emission of the same modulation type. The total bandwidth of an independent sideband emission (having B as the first symbol), or a multiplexed image and phone emission, shall not exceed that of a communications quality A3E emission.
47 CFR 97.307(f)(2)

For reference, emission types:

Two-way radio[edit]​

A3EAM speech communication – used for aeronautical & amateur communicationsF3EFM speech communication – often used for marine radio and many other VHF communications

20K0 F3E Wide FM, 20.0 kHz width, ±5 kHz deviation, still widely used for amateur radio, NOAA weather radio, marine, and aviation users and land mobile users below 50 MHz[2]

11K2 F3E Narrow FM, 11.25 kHz bandwidth, ±2.5 kHz deviation – In the United States, all Part 90 Land Mobile Radio Service (LMRS) users operating above 50 MHz were required to upgrade to narrowband equipment by 1 January 2013.[3][4][5]

6K00 F3E Even narrower FM, future roadmap for Land Mobile Radio Service (LMRS), already required on 700 MHz public safety band

J3E SSB speech communication, used on HF bands by marine, aeronautical and amateur users

R3E SSB with reduced carrier (AME) speech communication, primarily used on HF bands by the military (a.k.a. compatible sideband)
 
Dang, UPS just showed up with a big ass tube for me. The GP-15 is here. It looks pretty self explanatory to assemble, and the build quality is very nice. It's going to be in a temporary location for a few days until I can go get my ladder and install it on the house.
 
Damn son, this thing is finna be noice. I hastily assembled it on a chain link fence post that will ultimately be mounted to the house. I have to adjust the 6m "radial" a little to tune it closer to 52.525. The SWR dip is a little high with the radial all the way in. That's as easy as loosening a set screw to adjust. 2m is dead on balls accurate, and under 1.5:1 across the entire band. 70cm has a very wavy SWR with a lot of dips, but it's under 1.5:1 pretty much the whole band.

I imagine it will only get better once I have it higher in the air.
 
sweet dude.
Dang, UPS just showed up with a big ass tube for me. The GP-15 is here. It looks pretty self explanatory to assemble, and the build quality is very nice. It's going to be in a temporary location for a few days until I can go get my ladder and install it on the house.
 
Bunch of lame asses around here. I know someone has their radio on and can hear me but nobody will come back for a quick signal report. I called on 70, 2, and 6.

I was able to hit some new repeaters earlier. The 6m specific radial does seem to make a difference. I hit one repeater a little scratchy in Pelham I believe, I turned it so the radial was aiming east and it came in much clearer. Then my buddy had me try a 2m repeater in Lake George that he brags about being able to hit, and he said I was booming in. He made it well enough to open the squelch on the repeater but he was so scratchy I couldn't make out a word he was saying. So I guess I've got more fars than him.

There's a club (Overlook Mtn ARC) in Woodstock, NY I've heard a few times and would love to be able to reach. I've heard some of their nets when I'm up on the mountain, but I've never been able to reach them. Still can't.
 
Bunch of lame asses around here. I know someone has their radio on and can hear me but nobody will come back for a quick signal report. I called on 70, 2, and 6.

lol! This may surprise you, but, unless someone has the calling freqs in their scanner within the VHF Line-of-sight from you, you are likely calling into a pillow. FM only on 6? Good luck there too, may be lucky if there is a distinct opening. Does a scanner cover 6m?

If your rig has band-scan capabilities, do that on 2m and see if you catch some random repeaters around the commute times.

Keep an eye on this for 6m. you may catch something if any spots start popping up on any mode on 6m.

1698410283719.png

SSB on 6m may prove more fruitful. Digital modes are taking over everywhere VHF (FT8 & FT4) if you really want QSOs.

GL OM

UJay
 
I looked around a little on 6 and stumbled on some folks. It sounded like they get on every night. I tried to catch some call signs but what I heard either came back as not valid or nowhere near here. But you know how people give their call when they're just identifying for compliance. I had heard someone mention some folks doing just that north of me, but the guy telling me about it didn't know any more of that. I bet it's them.

This is an FM only rig, so that's what I'm trying to do with it. I have other radios for other modes; I'm just trying to see what's out there for FM in my area. I've heard plenty of people lament that they scan repeaters and calling frequencies all day and never hear anyone. I've done the same and don't hear much. I work from home so I've been leaving this radio on in the other room to listen, but I can't always respond. And until yesterday I really only had 10m, which is surprisingly fun. But you have to catch it while it's hot.
 
Awesome.... That is what it is all about..... This weekend is a major contest with the CQWW SSB on the HF bands and I was working stations in EU pretty easily on 10 SSB yesterday- so it was open.

There are likely dozens of people, just like yourself, scanning and listening..... So calling CQ on the calling freqs could drum up some business if the bands are open. Keep an eye on the resources (RBS, PSK Reporter... etc..) that will give an indication of a 10m or 6m opening and chuck your call out there a few times.

UJay
 
Well dang, I got the antenna up on the house but it's not a whole lot better than when I had it temporarily mounted in a hole in the ground. I can't say for sure if it's above the peak of the roof, but it's close if it isn't. I have power coming in on this side of the house, so I could only do so much. I would have thought this would be way better than just blasting into the side of the house. No answer on the calling frequencies, but I'll keep trying.

I can hit a few more repeaters than before, but not much. I'll have to try some more. I did have better luck once I realized the squelch was cranked way up.
 
Not bad for an old CB antenna, a piece of rebar, a couple wires and plastic fence posts.
Gonna need some photos here. ;-)

Edit: Also photos of the new stuff!


I never understood "listening" or "monitoring". I know what it means, but at least around here it garners no response. Last night I heard two guys call the repeater with "monitoring" within a couple minutes of each other. Why didn't they talk to each other?

Not a dig against you, just that "monitoring" and "listening" just seems like what people do when they want to key the mic but don't actually want to talk to anyone. But I'll find some way to call without calling CQ, which is what I had been doing. "Monitoring" is too passive when you're actually looking to talk to people.
I just come out and say it. "123ABC listening. If you are on XYZ repeater and hearing this, could you please respond so I can check my equipment?" I KNOW there are people out there, just sitting there listening. I really don't get it.
 
Gonna need some photos here. ;-)

Edit: Also photos of the new stuff!



I just come out and say it. "123ABC listening. If you are on XYZ repeater and hearing this, could you please respond so I can check my equipment?" I KNOW there are people out there, just sitting there listening. I really don't get it.
I took the 10m vertical down to mow the lawn a few weeks ago and never put it back. Now that it's winter I can probably put it up and leave it, maybe if I get a warm day and the ground thaws. After my experiment last weekend with the elevated radials, I'm definitely going to set this back up with the radials off the ground.

Yeah, that's pretty much what I do. Some guys just say "Listening on 91" when they mean 146.91. That's all fine and good, but I have a pile of repeaters and I don't know the frequencies of every single one. I wish they'd say "Listening on Greylock 91" or something like that. I heard a guy about three times yesterday but he didn't say what he was monitoring, so I couldn't respond. Was he on a repeater? Was it simplex? What band?

If you don't already, it helps to call a few times. My radio is scanning in the other room so I have to hear it, then stop what I'm doing and go over and listen for the person to call again so I can respond, unless they give enough information for me to find them.
 
So there are really just two simplex frequencies: 29.500 and 29.600? That's kind of a bummer, but I guess there isn't a ton of room. And when the band is open I can see those few repeater spots getting to be a nightmare. Even with PL tones, once someone opens the repeater, anything on that frequency gets in.

I just heard what I believe were a couple of German stations on 520.
29.2 - 29.5 is satellite up and downlinks. Not sure if any birds operate there any more, but if they do, it's a bad place to operate. You can tie up a satellite, and do nasty things to the batteries if you set up there.

Wondering if you would be OK to run wide FM from 29.0 - 29.2. It's set aside for AM, but FM is legally allowed above 29.0.
 
This is the best I can find. I saw someone doing POTA on 10m FM the other day. I forget what frequency he was on but it wasn't 29.600, and I couldn't hear him anyway. But while I was there I had a nice chat with a guy in Arkansas I think.

This is the best I can find. It matches what I thought. And I agree, I think 29.500 is reserved for satellites. Are there even 10m satellites still?

1701228468456.png

 
I ordered a duplexer tonight so I can have 70, 2, 6 go to my tribander, and 10m go to another antenna. I'll be glad to have 10m FM back in operation. That was fun last summer.

I looked for 10m satellites and the only one I see that still uses it is only for the downlink. Probably not good practice to use their frequencies, but I've heard people on 29.400, 29.500, and 29.600.

Communications Repeaters​

Two types of communications repeaters are aboard the spacecraft, only one of which operates at a time. The first repeater is a higher power, two-watt version of the one-watt two-to-ten meter linear repeater that flew on the OSCAR 6 mission. This non-inverting transponder receives uplink signals between 145.85 and 145.95 MHz, and retransmits them between 29.4 and 29.5 MHz on the downlink. A 200 milliwatt telemetry beacon provides telemetry data on 29.502 MHz. Approximately -100 dBm is required at the repeater input terminals for an output of 1 watt. This corresponds to an EIRP from the ground of 90 watts for a distance to the satellite of 2,000 miles and a polarization mismatch of 3 dB.


 
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